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Recycling Those Old Electronics

Computer_disposal.gifThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday its launch of a campaign urging consumers to recycle their old cell phones. Partners in the campaign include many of the major cell phone service providers and some retail stores.

The EPA estimates about 100 to 130 million cell phones in the U.S. are no longer in use; less than 20% of unwanted cell phones are recycled each year. Consumers are encouraged to drop off in stores or mail in their old cell phones. A list of participating locations can be found here.

The campaign is just one initiative in Plug-In To eCycling, the electronics recycling program created by the EPA in 2003. The graph, based on EPA data, shows how many tons of computer products people got rid of each year between 1999 and 2005. (The numbers include desktop and portable computers; peripherals including printers, scanners, fax machines, mice, and keyboards; and monitors.) The majority of these products are thrown out--only a small portion is recycled, a trend that seems likely to continue unless consumer behavior changes.

For exact figures and related statistics, refer to page 351 of The World Almanac 2008.

Links:
Recycle Your Cell Phone. It's An Easy Call. (EPA)
Recycled Cell Phones--A Treasure Trove of Valuable Metals (U.S. Geological Survey fact sheet)

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